Quilts and Related Prints
February 19 - March 28

Please join the artists, Mary Lee Bendolph, Louisiana Bendolph and Loretta Bennett, at our opening, February 19, 6:00 to 8:00, and for our free “Saturday After” artist talk Saturday, February 21 at noon.

Housetop, c. 1970s
Quilted fabric 76 x 71 inches

Also, the regional premiere of GEE’S BEND, a play written by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder and directed by Karen Lund, will be showing at Taproot Theatre, January 28 - February 28, 2008.

Greg Kucera Gallery is pleased to announce its second exhibition of quilts and related prints by women from Gee’s Bend, Alabama. The African American quilters coming from rural hamlets such as Gee’s Bend rely on recognizable traditions of patterning but create their own unique riffs as well.

These African-American quilts relate to the ongoing tradition of American patchwork quilts in ways similar to how American jazz and rural music forms relate to European classical music. The notes are the same but the rules are altered or loosened. A comparison to music is apt because the quilt makers often refer to church music as a major source of their inspiration, “quilting and singing, singing and quilting.”

Blocks and Strips, 2003-4
Quilted fabric 68.5 x 61.75 inches

Gee’s Bend is a community of about 700, among whom are the descendants of 3 or 4 generations of female quilt makers. Because of the remoteness of its location, Gee’s Bend was slow to become known to outside cultural institutions. Albert Rothstein photographed the people of Gee’s Bend for the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s. In 1941, The Library of Congress sent Robert Sonkin, speech professor at City College of NY, to record the spirituals and sermons of the area.

In 1966, the Freedom Quilting Bee was formed in nearby Rehoboth to allow the women a chance to collectively produce and sell their quilts. A brief contract with Bloomingdale’s allowed for a foundation of commercial success but expectations of “consistency” in their products led to disillusionment among the quilters. A 1972 contract with Sears, for corduroy pillow covers, lasted 20 years and provided for long-term improvement in their lives but not in the development of their art, save for introducing corduroy to their quilting. The corduroy quilts are singularly impressive among the host of generally found materials used by these artists.

The recognition of the women of Gee’s Bend as artists came though contact with travelers to the area and contacts in New York. In 1967, Lee Krasner visited Gee’s Bend with her dealer Donald McKinney of Marlborough Gallery. Both bought quilts and slowly, by word of mouth, the reputation of the women of Gee’s Bend as quilt making artists grew. In 1999, William Arnett, creator of Tinwood Alliance, brought the quilts to the attention of noted writer and curator Jane Livingston. Her essay, “Reflections on the Art of Gee’s Bend” is the centerpiece for the 2002 exhibition catalog produced by the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, for the exhibition which has traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Milwaukee Art Museum; and others.

We are also showing the recent etchings by three women from Gee’s Bend. Their etchings derive from their quilts through a softground process printed in rich saturated colors by the Paulsen Press in Berkeley, CA. For these etchings Mary Lee and Louisiana Bendolph created small scale quilts in the print making studio, rending fabrics and sewing together the parts to create the right scale and complexity. As Louisiana prefers to use new material and not found fabric, this was highly successful for her. She is not shy about describing how she is part of the “new generation” of Gee’s Bend quilters and will sometimes sketch out or make a pattern to follow. Often she uses diagonals and triangles to make her images.

Softground aquatint
39 x 43 inches
Edition of 50

Mary Lee’s quilts and prints are typically based on parallel and perpendicular oppositions and a more somber color palette. Her prints, like her quilts, tend toward a larger scale. Loretta’s quilts and prints reveal an eye for clean lines as well as a finely tuned sense of design and juxtaposition of color.

See more Gee's Bend Quilters Work

Recent Prints
February 19 - March 28
Opening reception: February 19, 6:00 - 8:00 pm

Seattle’s Pacific Operaworks, presents William Kentridge’s staged production of the Claudio Monteverdi opera, THE RETURN OF ULYSSES, March 11 – 28, Moore Theater, Seattle. Tickets through TicketMaster.

Henry Art Gallery presents WILLIAM KENTRIDGE, including drawings, films, sculpture and prints, February 7- May 3, 2009

Henry Art Gallery presents William Kentridge performance, I AM NOT ME, THE HORSE IS NOT MINE, March 9. Contact Henry Gallery for details.

Working with great sensitivity and subtlety, Kentridge is among the best of artists who deal with a broad range of political issues—particularly addressing national identities, economic differences, individual and collective responsibilities, and of memory and loss. Although much of his work is inspired by specific events in his native South Africa, Kentridge’s work has a universal significance and speaks to oppression and inequity everywhere. Kentridge wants to call attention to the state of terrorism that was central to apartheid in South Africa, but he also wants us to look beyond that cruelty to an inner landscape where we all wrestle with issues of power and desire, of right and wrong, of guilt and forgiveness.

I have never tried to make illustrations of apartheid, but the drawings and films are certainly spawned by and feed off the brutalized society left in its wake. I am interested in a political art, that is to say an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures, and certain endings; an art (and a politics) in which optimism is kept in check and nihilism at bay. —William Kentridge

Many of the prints in the exhibition are from the series of etchings by Kentridge based on his production of Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE. The prints depict birds and Papageno, the bird catcher, who used music to lure and capture the birds.

See more William Kentridge's Work

Upcoming Exhibitions:
Works in Paper and Metal
April 2 - May 16, 2009

April 2 - May 16, 2009